Virginia Symposium on The Spanish Inquisition: Rereadings and New Questions

Early Modern Spanish History Notes is proud to host summaries of the papers given at The Spanish Inquisition: Rereadings and New Questions – A Symposium, hosted by the University of Virginia on November 4-5, 2011. Thanks to all the scholars who allowed EM Spanish History Notes to display their unpublished work. All summaries have been provided by the paper givers, unless indicated.

The Spanish Inquisition:
Rereadings and New Questions
A Symposium*

University of Virginia, November 4-5, 2011

 Friday, November 4

Panel I   The Inquisition and Jewish Identities

Chair: Alison Weber, Professor of Spanish, UVA; Comment: Michael Gerli, Professor of Spanish, University of Virginia.

Gretchen Starr-LeBeau, Associate Professor of History, University of Kentucky
“Judeoconversas: Accusers and Accused before the Holy Office.”

How did gender affect judeoconversas’ experiences before the Holy Office of the Inquisition? Female judeoconversas were just as common as males in Inquisition trials, but their experiences differed in significant ways. This paper examines the distinctive strategies judeoconversas used to defend themselves, as well as the role judeoconversas played in prosecutions of other crypto-Jews. Experiences of crypto-Jewish women tried in inquisition courts in Lisbon and Venice provide an important comparative lens through which to understand the experiences of judeoconversa women in Spain.

Sara T. Nalle, Professor of History, William Paterson University.
“Reading Inquisition Sources to Write Oral History.”

Early Modern Spanish Notes Summary: Nalle argues that Inquisition archives hold something like the records of oral histories, as those brought up before the Holy Office narrated their experience of events they lived through. For example, the experiences of Jews who experienced the expulsion of 1492 can be mined in the records of conversos who, years later, found themselves before the Inquisition, telling the stories of their and their families’ experiences fleeing Castile and later returning to it.

Stephen Silverstein, PhD Candidate, University of Virginia.
“Rereading Crypto-Jewish Writing: Luis de Carvajal’s Hidden Polemic with his Inquisitors.”

In “Rereading Crypto-Jewish Writing: Luis de Carvajal’s Hidden Polemic with his Inquisitors” I discuss the letters composed in 1595 by Luis de Carvajal, the younger, while he was jailed by the Inquisition in New Spain. If Luis’s explicit addressees are his mother and sisters, who too found themselves imprisoned, his epistles also figure his inquisitors as implicit interlocutors, who, as Luis well knew, were intercepting his secret missives. In this way, the letters function as a hidden polemic in which Luis struggles to resignify his interpellation as a marrano, as well as refute the abjection of the Jew realized by the dominant discourse. Luis’s deliberate appropriation of elements from the master discourse indicates that the notion of religious syncretism—an unconscious amalgam of, in this case, Jewish and Catholic components—is not a sufficiently nuanced critical model with which to analyze crypto-Jewish writing, religiosity and subjectivity. Therefore, I propose applying the theories of hybridity formulated by Mikhail M. Bakhtin and Homi K. Bhabha. By means of his hybrid writing, Luis discursively battles his Inquisitors, and articulates and legitimizes a subjectivity traditionally excluded from the hegemonic order.

Keynote Address

Doris Moreno, Associate Professor of Modern History, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona
“Coerción y persuasión en la España de mediados del siglo XVI: la Inquisición, el protestantismo español y la Compañía de Jesús.”

En esta ponencia se abordó el papel de la Compañía de Jesús en la crisis que se abrió en la Monarquía hispánica a mediados del siglo XVI, tras el descubrimiento de los focos protestantes de Andalucía y Castilla, crisis que desembocó en los autos de fe de 1559-1562.
En una primera parte, introductoria, se dibujó el cuadro de las corrientes espirituales de la España de la primera mitad del Quinientos, en relación dinámica con las corrientes europeas (erasmismo, luteranismo), y siempre con la actuación inquisitorial como celosa guardiana de una ortodoxia pretridentina, en proceso de definición.

En segundo lugar, se describió brevemente la situación de la Compañía de Jesús en España en las décadas centrales del siglo XVI: la novedad de su estructura, espiritualidad y proyección, y las críticas que tales novedades suscitaron (Melchor Cano O.P.). La nueva orden se encontraba en una situación de delicada inestabilidad cuando se descubrieron los focos protestantes de Sevilla y Valladolid. La noticia produjo un impacto enorme en la sociedad de la época y conocemos la reacción contundente de Carlos V, Felipe II y el Inquisidor General Fernando de Valdés. La Compañía de Jesús, en aquel momento, supo actuar estrategicamente para figurar al lado del poder inquisitorial y participar así de la imagen pública de la ortodoxia. Se trataba de utilizar esa escenografía para apuntalar y consolidar su posición. Sin embargo, su colaboración en el restablecimiento del orden no se redujo al ámbito de la coerción. Muy al contrario. A través de la predicación, el reciclaje sacerdotal y sobre todo el siempre discreto confesionario, la Compañía de Jesús se convirtió en mediadora para reintegrar a la ortodoxia aceptable a los muchos que no habiendo cruzado la frontera confesional, se sentían escrupulosamente tocados por la duda en sus conciencias.

En la tercera parte de la charla, se diseccionaron las estrategias seguidas por la Compañía en el ámbito de la persuasión en Sevilla y, sobre todo, en Valladolid, sede de la corte, y donde la mayoría de los procesados eran conocidos por su pertenencia a la élite nobiliaria, religiosa y/o cortesana. Los jesuitas utilizaron estrategias vistosas para hacer evidente a los máximos poderes de la Monarquía las posibilidades y beneficios de su actuación en la defensa de la ortodoxia, en la defensa del poder. Había que vencer y, sobre todo, convencer desde el espacio interior de la conciencia.

Panel II: Revisiting the Inquisitors

Chair and Comment: Brian Owensby, Professor, Department of History, University of Virginia.

Daniel I. Wasserman-Soler, PhD Candidate, University of Virginia.
“The Language Ideology of Melchior Cano, O.P.”

Melchior Cano is perhaps best-known among historians of early modern Spain for his infamous collaboration with Inquisitor General Fernando de Valdes in bringing charges of heresy against Bartolome Carranza, archbishop of Toledo and primate of Spain in the mid-sixteenth century. Less well-known is that the first problem raised by Cano in his censure of Carranza concerns the fact that Carranza wrote his Comentarios sobre el catechismo christiano in Castilian (rather than
in Latin), thus exposing complicated theology to the unsophisticated common folk. The Carranza affair, of course, was by no means a mere story of language ideology. Yet, this infamous episode in the history of the Spanish Inquisition has emphasized personal animosity so heavily that it has been deprived of all ecclesiastical or theological substance. While the intense animosity between Cano and Carranza cannot be denied, we would do well to recognize that the tensions between these two prominent churchmen lay not just in personal issues but also in real differences of theology and ecclesiology. I would suggest that Cano’s principal argument against Carranza (regarding the vernacular) did not serve simply as a front for the Inquisition’s pursuit of the latter. To support this claim, this paper will contextualize Cano’s main argument against Carranza within the former’s larger theological corpus (e.g., De locis theologicis, Commentaries on Aquinas).

Lu Ann Homza, Professor of History, College of William and Mary.
“Whistling in the Dark: Inquisitors and Witches in Navarre, 1609-1611.”

Early Modern Spanish Notes Summary: The actions of Antonio de Salazar Frías that stopped the witch-hunts in Navarre are well known, thanks to the work of Gustav Henningsen. But Henningsen worked with documents in Madrid, and if one examines the records in Navarre, it turns out that was even harder than we thought to end the witch hunts. The local tribunal was understaffed, and despite grave concerns over witches and Portuguese conversos, its officials were unwilling to venture out into the countryside, so commissioners were deputized to help cover the large, broken terrain of Navarre. One commissioner reported that while he was supposed to only record accusations, families demanded to justice against witches, so the commissioner held ersatz trials, with torture, whose victims later sued. The commissioner knew he was not supposed to be doing this, so he tried to keep it a secret from his superiors. Salazar, who put a stop to the witch hunts, did so because the trials were held incorrectly, but not before he tried to defend the original guilty sentences.

Kimberly Lynn, Assistant Professor of Humanities, Western Washington University.
“Unraveling the Inquisitors.”

Although scholars have made great strides in assembling prosopographical data on inquisitors, there remains relatively little attention given to the careers of individual Spanish inquisitors or to the approaches which Spanish inquisitors took to their work.  Lynn seeks to examine what motivated inquisitors and what range of actions was available to them, and thus to re-examine the place of inquisitors in their institution and how to explain their actions.

Saturday, November 5

Panel III:  New Questions for Inquisition Sources

Chair: Erin Rowe, Assistant Professor of History, UVA; Comment, Richard Kagan, Professor of History, The Johns Hopkins University.

Adam Beaver, Assistant Professor of History, Princeton University.
“The Inquisition and Hebraic Scholarship.”

Early Modern Spanish Notes Summary: The Inquisition’s campaign against Hebraists has long been seen as a tipping point toward deadening Spanish intellectual life, and of course the inquisitors make easy villains, while brilliant, persecuted scholars, often conversos, make easy heroes. But if there was such a campaign against Hebraism, why did Philip II patronize Arias Montano, even appointing him the librarian of the Escorial? Why did they practice it openly, and why did they expect to be acquitted when accused? The real concern with Hebraists was the Council of Trent’s new guidelines for studying scripture, upholding the Vulgate as the standard version of the Bible, but did so using confusing language. By the 1570’s Arias Montano;’s Antwerp Polyglot this issue into relief and provoked the Clementine Vulgate, with Rome trying to stop new editions. Rome and Madrid were now on opposite sides of a Counter-Reformation issue, and the Inquisition upheld the Roman, closed interpretation versus Philip and the Hebraists who wanted to use Hebrew philology and even Jewish interpretation keep improving the Vulgate behind the scenes. In this affair, the Inquisition did not represent the dead hand of the state, preventing modernity in Spain, but as the enforcer of Roman, papal ideas versus Philip’s national church.

Allyson Poska, Professor of History, Mary Washington University.
“Reading Gender through Inquisition Sources.”

Early Modern Spanish Notes Summary: The 1990s were a golden age of scholarship on gender and the Inquisition. Scholars have found that local people had a sense of hwo women should behave, and then the Inquisition sat to decide whether failures to live up to gender nroms was heresy or not. When it comes to conversos and other religious minorities, women denounced each other, so gender is something between women, too, not just men vs. women, and women also used gender rhetoric against the Inquisition. People who crossed bodily gender roles, such as transsexuals and lesbians, were not really harshly punished by the Inquisition (unlike male homosexuals); instead the Inquisition tried just to sort things out. In short, the Holy Office turned out not to be a very strong enforcement mechanism for gender expectations, and women felt like they were able to push back against the Inquisition. Colonial Latin American history is now a hot bed for gender and the Inquisition, but these historians still see the Inquisition as an enforcer of gender norms – they haven’t yet absorbed the lessons of Spanish history. Meanwhile, gender and the Inquisition in Spain is dying out as a topic of research, and worse, it is not making a dent in the major surveys of Inquisition history. What still needs to be done is a well theorized study fo the institution and its processes; the gendered ideologies of the institution as a whole, or of the inquisitors. Scholars assume that broadly European ideas about gender applied, ignoring the many competing ideas about gender in Spain and what the professional caste of inquisitors actually thought. Also, studying the Inquisition could be a useful tool for understanding masculinity as well.

Alison Weber, Professor of Spanish, University of Virginia.
“‘Nothing but Two Sticks’: The Inquisition and Iconophobia.”

In the last three decades of the sixteenth century, numerous individuals were brought before the Spanish Inquisition, charged with failure to render due veneration to religious images. Some refused to kneel before a statue of the Virgin Mary as it passed through the streets in a religious procession; some said the crucifix was just “two sticks’; others declared that the adoration of images was idolatry. Yet another group made statements that were essentially in conformity with orthodox doctrine defined at the Council of Trent in 1563, which declared that images did not have any inherent supernatural attributes. Some of these persons were nevertheless reprimanded or fined. My research project centers on this phenomenon in early modern Spain, which I call “iconophobia”—words and acts expressing antipathy for or indifference to religious images—and the inquisitorial response to it.  I am interested in what trial records can reveal about how inquisitors performed the balancing act of discouraging the superstitious worship of images without condoning irreverence or indifference to images. Ultimately, I seek to understand why icono-enthusiasm (the attribution of miraculous powers to images) not only persisted after Trent but indeed rebounded vigorously in the seventeenth century.

Discussion:

Discussion leader: Jodi Bilinkoff, Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

Discussion

One thought on “Virginia Symposium on The Spanish Inquisition: Rereadings and New Questions

  1. Thank you so much, did the presentations publish?I am so sorry to missed this conference, how can I reach the presentations?

    Posted by phayza | May 24, 2012, 10:35 am

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